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Course Design to Test the Model of Usage of an Online Homework Management System

I am currently studying the factors that motivate students to use an online homework management system. My courses are designed around the online homework management system. The first week of the course, students complete the modified Unified Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT) survey, the Need for Cognition (NFC), and Computer Self-Efficacy survey. These provide the data regarding the factors proposed to motivate students to use the online homework management system. The UTAUT provides a measure of the student’s performance expectancy (if they think the OHM will help them to earn a better grade), effort expectancy (if they think the OHM will be easy to use), expectancy regarding facilitating conditions (if they think they will have the support they need to use the OHM), and the social influence (whether the instructor and their classmates think they should use the OHM). The NFC survey measures the student’s intrinsic motivation to think and learn. The Computer Self-Efficacy survey measures the student’s perception of their ability to use a new technology.

For each chapter, students first complete a pre-test. The pre-test contains questions covering each of the chapter’s objectives and measures the student’s understanding of the chapter concepts before they have been covered in class and any homework has been completed. Students earn minimal points for taking the pre-test, regardless of their score. The OHM builds an individualized study plan based on the score for the pre-test. For each objective for which the student did not show mastery, the OHM will build a study plan of questions, exercises and problems to build knowledge of that objective.

The students are instructed that they are to work in their individualized study plans until they feel that they have mastered the concepts. Students earn points for work in the study plan based on (a) the number of problems worked relative to the total problems in the study plan; (b) the amount of time spent in the study plan; and (c) proven mastery of the majority of the chapter objectives.

Once students feel they have mastered the chapter concepts, they move on to the post-test for the chapter. The post-test can be completed multiple times before the due date/time. Students are instructed that if they score below 85% on the post-test, they should go back to the study plan focusing on the objectives missed on the post-test.

The research questions are:
1. Do students with higher Performance Expectancy work a higher percentage of the study plan problems/spend more time working in the study plan?
2. Do students with lower Effort Expectancy work a higher percentage of the study plan problems/spend more time working in the study plan?
3. Do students with higher Facilitating Conditions expectancy work a higher percentage of the study plan problems/spend more time working in the study plan?
4. Do students with higher Social Influence perception work a higher percentage of the study plan problems/spend more time working in the study plan?
5. Do students with higher Need for Cognition work a higher percentage of the study plan problems/spend more time working in the study plan?
6. Do students with higher Computer Self-Efficacy work a higher percentage of the study plan problems/spend more time working in the study plan?
7. Are there significant relationships between any of the proposed motivitating factors?

I am currently collecting data and will report my findings soon. I would like to extend the study beyond my classes. I am currently studying accounting classes. It might be interesting to study different types of classes.

The next stage of my research will also include a study of the impact of self-efficacy regarding the class on the use of the OHM. For example, do students who think they can learn accounting use the OHM more than students who perceive they will not be able to learn the material? Additionally, I want to study the impact of the performance on previous units on future units. Does the performance on the first test motivate students to use the OHM more/less? Does actual performance change a student’s self-efficacy regarding the class? Are students able to accurately predict their grade on a test?

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A model to measure the effectiveness of online homework management systems

I have been working to develop a model that can be used to measure the effectiveness of online homework management systems. I started using MyAccountingLab by Pearson a few years ago. I love the features of the homework management system and am curious about how students use it and how effective it is in teaching accounting. Most students like it, some love it, while others don’t take advantage of it at all. This prompted my questioning mind to ponder “Why do the students who most need the homework manager use it the least?”

My research on the topic lead me to the Unified Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT) model, which basically suggests that people who perceive that a new technology is useful (will help them do their job better), is easy to use, has support for users, and is accepted within their social circles will use it. This model has been tested extensively; research suggests it is a valid model. This model can be modified slightly to apply it to the classroom.

Additionally, I looked at Self-Efficacy, which is a person’s perception of his/her ability on a given task. A student with high self-efficacy for accounting, for example, has confidence in his/her ability to learn accounting. This is an important factor in the motivation to do the homework in a class. If a student believes he/she can master the content, he/she will be more motivated to attempt the homework. Additionally, because the homework manager might be a new technology to students, the student’s computer self-efficacy (perception of his/her ability to learn new technology) is also an important factor in his/her motivation to use the online homework manager.

I also researched the Need for Cognition theory. Need for Cognition (NFC) is one’s intrinsic motivation to learn and think. If a student is intrinsically motivated to learn new things (has a high NFC), he/she is more likely to engage in classroom activities such as homework. Additionally, I found research that suggests that if a student has low NFC, he/she will take the path of least resistence to completing the work in the class. Other researchers suggest that a student with a low NFC who perceives the online homework manager will make the homework easier, he/she will be more motivated to use it. I am suggesting, based on my research, that such students, if given the option, will elect to work only the easy problems in the OHM.

My model adds to the previous studies in that it also includes the opportunity to measure the effectiveness of the OHM in student performance in the class. Additionally, it could be used to measure the effects of performance on self-efficacy. For example, if students are asked to assess their performance on the first test and then asked again to rate their ability to learn accounting and succeed in the class, this new measure of self-efficacy could be used to then measure the student’s motivation to continue using the OHM. It could also be used to identify at-risk students in the class.

If you would like to see the model, please comment on this post with your email address and I will be happy to send it to you. While I am using the model to measure the effect of the OHM on performance in accounting courses, this model could also be used in other courses. It might be interesting to conduct a study of students in multiple types of courses to see if students use OHM differently in different types of courses.

 

 

 

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Filed under Assessment of Student Learning